Niles Fitch began acting professionally at an early age, appearing on Broadway as Young Simba in ‘The Lion King’. He may be best known for starring as the 20-year-old Randall Pearson alongside Sterling K. Brown and Mandy Moore on the SAG Award-winning and Emmy and Golden Globe nominated NBC series ‘This Is Us’. Niles most recently appeared in HBO Max’s ‘The Fallout’ opposite Jenna Ortega and in Disney+ feature film ‘The Secret Society of The Second-born Royals’ as Disney’s first black live-action prince outside of the Marvel franchise.
Next, he will be seen in Netflix’s ‘We Have a Ghost’ alongside Anthony Mackie, David Harbour, Tig Notaro and Jennifer Coolidge. ‘We Have a Ghost’ releases on Netflix today (24th February).
Niles, you started your career with a stage debut in the 2012 North American tour of ‘The Lion King’ as young Simba. How was it for you going from Broadway to TV and film?
It was beyond my wildest dreams. I have a deep passion for the arts. Being so young and getting to express myself in so many facets of this industry only strengthened my love for the craft.
When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? Was there any particular moment that made you realize that this is your dream?
When I was younger, I always loved taking pictures. My parents saw this passion and thought me pursuing a modeling career would be good for college money. Now here we are. For me, performing was always so fun. My career became a way for me to express myself without judgement. I never wanted to lose that ability and when I became cognizant of the position God blessed me with, that’s when I knew.
In Disney+ feature film ‘The Secret Society of Second-Born Royals’ you starred as Disney’s first black live-action prince outside of the Marvel franchise. This was a huge step for Disney. How do you look on that role, being the first black live-action prince? Why do you believe this is of such an importance nowadays?
I look at it as one of the coolest things I have ever done. It means the world to me that I can be a positive image for a young black boy. Will Smith, Tyler James Williams, Michael B. Jordan and more had such an impact on my life. Their work was honestly all I watched because I could relate to their trials and tribulations. If I could just do that for one kid, I did my job.
In your personal opinion, why do you believe representation of all different races and sexualities in TV and film is so important in Hollywood?
It’s important because TV and film is supposed to be a representation of the world around us. Without showing authentic experiences from every viewpoint we are further contributing to societal ignorance and doing a disservice to the world.
On the award-winning series ‘This Is Us’ we got to know you as the young Randall Pearson. The show’s 6th and final season aired in 2022. What is your favorite memory from filming ‘This Is Us’?
Finishing ‘This Is Us’ was bittersweet. I grew up playing Randall and I hold that character very close to my heart. Randall was a great dude, genuine, cared for others. I can’t put into words the impact that had on how I carry myself. My last scene in the show was with Sterling K. Brown. For six years, when he came around, I shook in my boots because of how much respect I had for him. Then on my last day, I sat across from him as he smiled into my eyes, telling me my future’s so bright. I’ll always cherish those memories.
In 2021, your film ‘The Fallout’, which screened in competition at the 2021 SXSW Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, was released on HBO Max. The film has a heavy and sensitive story, dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting and the effects such a tragedy has on a young individual. How did you prepare for your role of Quinton, who survived this trauma and also lost his brother in the shooting?
It would be ignorant of me to ever think I could fully grasp the level of trauma Quinton and so many other kids in real life are forced to endure. However, I thought about the deep pain I felt when I watched my father go from the leader of my family to a person that couldn’t breathe without the help of a machine. His death brought sadness, anxiety, along with fleeting moments of joy that I couldn’t allow myself to have. And I hope that I was able to bring truthfulness to Quinton’s experience.
You are also involved in the fashion world. You first started modeling when you were only 4 years old. How does it make you feel being in front of the camera as a model? What is the most exciting part about it?
The best part is when you put on something fire, you look in the mirror and can’t even believe it’s you. That’s the best feeling. Good music playing while you hear the clicks of the camera, there is nothing like it.
Which are your biggest passions in life, besides of course acting or modeling?
I started attending University of Southern California for Film Production. My creativity is not just in front of the camera. I have a deep love for writing, directing and producing. One of my goals is to one day be able to direct a film I’ve written.
If you could travel to any place on Earth, where would you want to go and why there?
I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. It’s a dream of mine to go with friends and island hop from Athens to Milos and Santorini. I’ll do it soon, believe that.
Where do you see your career in 10 years?
The sky’s the limit. I truly don’t have a specific vision, rather a feeling of happiness because the hard work I’ve put in and will continue to put in, will put me in a position I can’t even imagine right now.
Currently, we’re able to watch you in Netflix’s ‘We Have a Ghost’, a family comedy horror film, which releases today. Tell us more about the film. We’d also love to hear how was it working alongside Anthony Mackie.
Anthony is the best. He’s hilarious, talented and most of all caring. I’ve watched him on the screen for over a decade and finding out that he’s even cooler than I thought could be possible, blew me away. I can’t wait to work with him again.
Talent: Niles Fitch
Photographer: Maya Iman
Photography assistant: Caleb Thomas
Stylist: Kirsten McGovern
Groomer: Andrea Pezzillo
Editor: Timi Letonja
This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja.